I grew up watching the original Star Trek series with William Shatner as Captain Kirk.  Kirk, always a crowd pleaser, would get himself into all types of galactic challenges, facing countless objections, and yet, by the end of the show, have saved himself, his crew, and the stunningly beautiful “lady creatures” from their peril. Then, a fresh batch of writers created Star Trek – Next Generation, featuring 24th century adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D).  Picard and crew faced a whole new series of threats and adventures, plus new lands, and new people.  Yet, at the end, Captain Picard would always find a way to prevail.  Now, how can I draw a sales development blog from this.  Watch and read….

One of the cool inventions featured on the deck of the Enterprise was the food replicator.  Picard would state “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” and a steaming cup of hot Earl Grey tea would appear. (Let me know when Best Buy has these one sale.)  Here is the sales transition, there are three specific things Picard did or used in order to have his tea.

  1. Picard knows what he wants.  In 24th Century food replication or sales, you have to know what you want.  I teach this and model this as consistently as I can.  When you are in the Planning stage of a sales process, you have to Mentally know what you want to accomplish in the sales call.  Then, you prepare, you take notes, you gather samples, data, examples, stories, facts, quotes, testimonials, etc.  You know what you want before you have the sales call.  Then, during the call, you listen, you allow the prospect or customer to talk, and you steer the sales call into areas and directions you have prepared for, because you know what you want and you are not allowing all this to happen by chance.  Let’s call this “closing for the highest level of commitment.“  that is a great place to start.  You have to know what you want.
  2. He articulates it clearly.  “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot!”  Simple use of (4) words which the Food Replicator can take action on.  In sales, I have seen so many frustrated buyers due to the sales professional (or amateur) confusing the customer by talking too much, drifting in and out of the conversation and sales direction, and offering so many features, gee-whiz facts, and emotion that the customer (and sales manager who is along for the sales call) is lost in confusion.  What are you trying to say?  Can it be said using fewer words?  Can pictures replace words?  Can demo product replace words?  What about a short video?  Yes, there are times when a complex sale requires words, and yes, with proper preparation, practice, and pronouncement, clarity will prevail.  My point is simple, great sales professionals, or as Jim Jacobus calls them; Gladiators (www.aplayersonly.wordpress.com), are better with articulation.  They are clear, concise, and they make sense quickly.
  3. He has a system for producing his desired outcome every time. Note that he has a SYSTEM.  Yes, I am huge on a Sales Process.  A sequential process or series of logical steps which assist the sales professional (and prospect/customer) in moving the sale FORWARD.  OK, so I am a bit passionate about this.  I have failed so many times due to not using a sales process.  I just wing it and that leads to a failed sales call and no sale.  When a process is in place and is used with discipline, the results are much higher. Note that Captain Picard produces his hot Earl Grey tea…every time.  It is expected, it is planned for, and it is consistent.  Picard has a desired outcome.  Question:  In your sales activities, do you have a desired outcome or are you just HOPEFUL?  Hope is not a sales strategy!  Can you imagine Picard, saying “Gee, I hope I get some tea, I hope it really is Earl Grey and not Peppermint, and I hope it is hot and not ice tea.”  The show would not have been successful if the main character, the leader of the Enterprise, was just hoping they would win the battle, hoping they would find new worlds, hoping they would seek peace with the Romulins and The Borg.  Yes, you must have some hope in the game, yet a system which a sales pro can duplicate and replicate has a higher degree of success that if you wing it and hope.

So, for all your Trekkies, Sales Pros, and Sales Amateurs, perhaps we do not have a Food Replicator yet!  We do have a clear direction to increase your sales productivity.

Special note here:  Scott Shadle, one of my sales mentors introduced me to Star Trek – Next Generation and I have been a fan ever since.  Thank you Scott for your time and training, showing me all kinds of examples of being a sales leader.